As Passover nears, area organizations are working to ensure that every community member can celebrate the holiday with dignity.
The JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry was recently in contact with local synagogues to convey how easy it is to access food and other resources, especially for Passover, said the Food Pantry’s director, Matthew Bolton.
“We don’t ask for names,” he said. The only information the Food Pantry wants to know is if synagogues “have anybody who is struggling this time of year and simply to tell us how many households, how many people per household, and we will pull Passover food for them.”
In addition to partnering with synagogues, the Food Pantry works with individuals “who may not be as connected to the Jewish community,” he said. Whether they live in Pittsburgh or outside the greater area, “we’ve told them they can come here for Passover food and that we have caseworkers on staff who can connect them to other resources available.”
Bolton said JFCS counselors are readily available and cited the organization’s commitment to offering “relief through food assistance and supportive social services for those who are struggling with food insecurity and hunger.”
The food pantry can be reached at 412-421-2708 or at email@example.com.
“We are fast, nimble and open five days a week for everyone,” Bolton added.
While the food pantry is helping community members prepare for Passover by supplying dry goods, gefilte fish, eggs, matzah, matzah meal, frozen chicken and produce, including potatoes, carrots, onions and celery, other local organizations are providing complementary assistance.
Our Giving Kitchen is hosting a Pre-Pesach store on April 2.
The organization’s director, Rabbi Chezky Rosenfeld, told the Chronicle that registrants can pay what they’d like for items including fresh produce, eggs and prepared food.
Rosenfeld said there are no financial criteria to participate and that interested parties — and those wishing to volunteer — should contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Rochel Tombosky, founder and executive director of GIFT, an organization committed to increasing cross-generational collaboration, is preparing close to 300 Passover-to-Go Kits for seniors.
The packages, Tombosky said, include a meal, a large print step-by-step Haggadah and other fun items, such as a back scratcher, which should help people recall the “outstretched arm” referred to in the Haggadah.
Passover is a time when “no one should feel alone,” she said. The kits, which are packaged and delivered by volunteers, are a way of helping many seniors “bring the joy back into Passover.”
Regardless of whether individuals are spending the holiday with family and friends or on their own, the kits are available to all, and recipients don’t need to disclose any sort of financial criteria, she added.
Tombosky encouraged seniors and other interested parties to visit the organization’s website at giftpgh.org to request a kit, volunteer or donate.
Whether it’s providing Passover-to-Go kits, or offering general GIFT programming, the goal, Tombosky said, is to make people “feel embraced and seen.”
Bolton echoed the sentiment.
“We’re here for the community. If anyone has any questions, or may need a little help, we’re here for you,” he said. “Everybody needs a little help sometimes, and we’re always here with open doors.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.